National Signing Day: Minnesota Gopher Football Offensive Commitments

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The past couple seasons the Gophers have made huge strides in rebuilding the program to Big Ten respectability.  Much of the on-the-field success has been attributed to the improved play by the defense and the offensive line.  Playmakers and an offense that can consistently put points on the board against Big Ten defenses has not been a team strength.  I believe that this year's recruiting class weighs more heavily on play-makers on the offense.

Here they are...

RB - JEFF JONES

VITALS
Position: RB
Home: Minneapolis, MN
Height: 6-0
Weight: 196
40-time: 4.69

Videos: [Freshman Year at IWCC
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on December 14th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (6.0) - #7 RB, #44 Overall
- ESPN: (83) - #12 RB, #137 Overall
- 247.Sports (0.9689) - #9 RB, #60 Overall

Other BCS Offers: Iowa St, Michigan State, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Syracuse

TWITTER @WaveyJJ_10

NOTES:

Jones spent the summer attending several camps around the country and slowly started to raise his recruiting profile.  He then had an outstanding season with impressive stats that was against Minneapolis city league competition.  And then his recruitment really blew up when we went down to the Under Armour All-Star game and was as good as anybody else in attendance.  Jones wound up taking home the MVP honors and walked away with scholarship offers from Florida, Michigan and increased interest from other helmet schools.  He remained committed to Minnesota, honoring the verbal he gave in February of 2013 and now Jones headlines Minnesota's 2014 recruiting class.

This is an outstanding get and a more impressive job of keeping him for Coach Kill and staff.  Jones is the first elite Minnesota recruit who chose to stay home in recent memory.  Offers from Michigan, Florida, Michigan State, Wisconsin, etc were not enough to pry him away from what he believes Kill is doing here.

Everyone is very excited and they should be.  Jones likely will contribute immediately.  I wouldn't expect him to supplant the senior David Cobb, he is still a true freshman about to compete in the Big Ten, but he I do expect he will see the field and make an impact.

WR - MELVIN HOLLAND JR

VITALS
Position: WR
Home: Ashburn, VA
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190
40-time: 4.52

Videos: [Senior Season games 1-10], [73-yard TD catch in 5A State Title Game]
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on January 27th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.5) - NR
- ESPN: (81) - #48 WR
- 247.Sports (0.8601) - #84 WR

Other BCS Offers: Wisconsin, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Boston College

TWITTER @MellowYllw21

NOTES:

As a junior, Holland caught 2 passes and was primarily a linebacker.  Heading into his senior year he switched to WR because there was a team need and he absolutely blew up setting single-season school records for receptions (64), receiving yardage (1,032) and receiving touchdowns (17).  A big receiver with what appears to be very nice play-making skills.  ESPN eval snippets...

The more you watch him, the better he gets. He is sneaky fast and explosive, but his physical stature makes him very difficult to handle in space one-on-one. You can't tackle him without help. He is a redzone mismatch, he can shield the ball from defenders on underneath routes and he can extend plays after the catch.

...

Holland is an impressive, under the radar player that we are surprised has slipped through the cracks he's very similar to another WR in this class Chris Godwin committed to Penn State. He has the coveted measurables and playmaking ability necessary for the BCS level of play.

I would like to assume that he'll redshirt a year to refine the technical elements of playing WR in the Big Ten, but this is a thin position for the Gophers and this staff has not been shy about playing true freshmen.  If he earns it, he'll play next year.  Very excited about the career of Holland!

OC - CONNOR MAYES

VITALS
Position: OC
Home: Van Alstyne, TX
Height: 6-5
Weight: 310
40-time: who cares

Videos: [Posted a month ago] [Junior Season highlights]
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on June 17th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.6) - #12 OC
- ESPN: (78) - #34 OG
- 247.Sports (0.8726) - #5 OC

Other BCS Offers: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Washington St and Duke

TWITTER @puppylovemayes

and this for comedic measure

NOTES:

Another offensive player, this one not a skill position guy, who I am very excited about.  Mayes, the younger brother of freshman Alex Mayes, was the starting center for one of the US Army All-American teams last month and one of the top centers in this year's recruiting class.  From his ESPN eval...

He is a dominant run blocker at his present level of competition demonstrating the explosive pop and surge needed to knock defenders back on their heels when single blocking, and displays the hand strength needed to control and maneuver defenders once contact is made. Playing out of a three-point stance, we see the balance and agility to play on his feet and adjust to quickness within tight spaces.

And this from his Football University profile.

At 6'5" and 320 pounds, Mayes is a massive force on the offensive line. Mayes is a tremendous blocker who knows how to use his size to his advantage. He excels while blocking, using his quickness and athleticism to get a jump on the opposition. Mayes takes the right angels when battling oncoming rushers and has the versatility to adjust when on the move. He finishes every play with attitude, something every coach loves to see. Mayes has the option to be a guard or a center at the next level.

Strength as a run-blocker...perfect.  I look forward to Mayes as the Gopher's starting center for much of his career.  Offensive linemen generally benefit from a red-shirt year to allow more time for their bodies to mature, harden and strengthen for the rigors of Big Ten play.  Described as a mauler and a kid who already posses better than average strength/size.  He has a chance to play early, maybe even this year.  It all depends on what happens at center this spring and fall.

Great to have the entire Mayes family in Gopher Nation and very excited about Connor as a significant contributor throughout his Gopher career.

RB - RODNEY SMITH

VITALS
Position: RB
Home: Jonesburo, GA
Height: 5-11 
Weight: 195
40-time: 4.54

Videos: [Junior Year Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on January 23rd

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.4) - NR
- ESPN: (75) - #118 RB
- 247.Sports (0.8281) - #79 RB

Other BCS Offers: none, only smaller southern schools

TWITTER @Numerouno1_

Apparently Gaelin Elmore is better at video games.

NOTES:

Put up very impressive stats (2,200+ yards and 26 TDs) as a senior after tearing his ACL during his junior season.  This against quality Georgia competition.  Smith is a productive back who missed out on much of the summer circuit, which likely damaged his recruiting profile.

Smith is a productive high school back who shows the skill set to catch the ball out of the backfield or when aligned in the slot as a receiver. Could potentially be a every down type back in his career at the next level but will need some polish and improved power as a runner between the tackles. Most likely a Division 1 running back. May need a redshirt year but could potentially get on the field early if he can adapt to the speed of the college game.

The backfield is getting to be a little bit crowded this year with David Cobb coming off a strong junior season, the speedy Berkley Edwards ready to go, Donnell Kirkwood still on the roster and the addition of Jeff Jones.  A redshirt year wouldn't be a bad idea for the kid but if he earns playing time, then we'll have a pretty exciting back on our hands for the next few years.  I have no doubt he will be a significant contributor over his Gopher career, I doubt it will be in 2014.

TE - GAELIN ELMORE

VITALS
Position: TE
Home: Sommerset, WI
Height: 6-6
Weight: 246
40-time: 4.83

Videos: [Senior Season
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on June 16th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.7) - #22 TE
- ESPN: (75) - #24 TE
- 247.Sports (0.8568) - #27 TE

Other BCS Offers: Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Michigan St, Nebraska, Iowa St, Indiana

TWITTER @Elmore2014

NOTES:

Elmore committed to the Gophers early and has been the program's biggest social media cheerleader.  Every recruit that was pursued by the Gopher staff was encouraged by Elmore via Twitter.  This kid is excited to be a Gopher and is a very nice addition to an already deep and talented position.

To steal from Matt's Scroll of the Sworn, Elmore is the type of TE who is physical enough to play every down and athletic enough to be a real weapon in the passing game.  ESPN eval does't exude enthusiasm but it does confirm that he is a traditional TE with some play-making ability.

Elmore is not a prospect who wows you in any particular facet of his game, but he's a tight end with good size and the tools to develop into a productive blocker and solid contributor as a receiving target. Abilities look better suited at the next level as more of a traditional TE

Very excited to have a kid with that offer list, that size and enthusiasm for the Gopher program.  The depth chart at TE is rather clogged right now but Elmore has the tools to earn some playing time, key word being earn.  There is also some speculation he ends up moving to DE where he would certainly take this year to redshirt.

QB/ATH - DIMONIC MCKINZY

VITALS
Position: QB/ATH
Home: Kansas City, KS
Height: 6-0
Weight: 210
40-time: 4.57

Videos: [Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on April 27th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.6) - NR
- ESPN: (74) - #131 ATH
- 247.Sports (0.8547) - #19 Dual-QB

Other BCS Offers: Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas

TWITTER @D_Mckinzy1

NOTES:

This is another play-making recruit that has some people very excited.  McKinzy is already enrolled at the U and will be participating in spring practice.  This is pretty significant and will give him a chance to earn some playing time earlier.  Unfortunately there isn't exactly a home for McKinzy yet.

Is a dynamic weapon as an athletic QB who is a project as a passer, but shows instincts and vision as a runner and improviser. Lines up at CB, but projects better as a safety with his measurables.

I believe that he is being brought in to play quarterback and will have the necessary time to develop those particular skills with Leidner the incumbent starter and redshirt freshman, Streveler the likely backup after having 2 spring practices and 2 fall practices before next season starts.

McKinzy has athletic ability that will get him on the field eventually.

WR - ISAIAH GENTRY

VITALS
Position: WR
Home: Cincinnati, OH
Height: 6-4
Weight: 185
40-time: 4.61

Videos: [Junior Highlights]
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on December 14th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.7) - #65 WR
- ESPN: (78) - #88 WR
- 247.Sports (0.8115) - #204 WR

Other BCS Offers: Kent State (commit), Rutgers

TWITTER @Isaiah_Gentry

NOTES:

A former Kent State commit who flipped to Minnesota after increased recruiting from the Gophers and a few other BCS level schools following Gentry's senior season.  Gentry brings size and speed to the Gopher receiving corp (which is now VERY young).  Long arms, built like a basketball player and has great hands.

Gentry is part possession player, part big play target. He is very rangy and athletic given his size. Could play inside or outside and is extremely reliable. You know he is going to make a play on the ball if it comes his way. He's competitive and confident - knows he's a playmaker.

Another skill position player that I am very excited about.  Big kid who can use his height and jumping ability to be a difficult matchup.  As a senior Gentry racked up over 1,100 yards and 10 TDs on 44 catches.  The staff has certainly been willing to play receivers as true freshmen, but there is also getting to be a handful of young receivers on the depth chart.  I feel like a broken record but if Gentry earns playing time he'll certainly get it.  Or he'll redshirt to add some bulk before having a solid career

TE/ATH - JERRY GIBSON

VITALS
Position: TE/ATH
Home: Theodore, AL
Height: 6-3
Weight: 220
40-time: 4.59

Videos: [Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on November 29th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.4) - NR
- ESPN: (76) - #19 TE
- 247.Sports (0.8151) - #60 TE

Other BCS Offers: South Carolina, Iowa, Northern Illinois

TWITTER @TheNew_JG3

NOTES:

Great size and athleticism; also a kid who has may not have a positional home just yet.  But this staff likes to bring in guys with talent and let the position sort itself out later.  Gibson could be an athletic and play-making TE or maybe he adds bulk and slides to defensive end (much like Elmore).

From a three point stance we see the initial quickness and smooth running stride which allows him to put immediate pressure on defensive backs when running deep seam routes; his foot quickness, elusiveness along with a smooth stride allows him to rip off big chunks of yardage after the catch.

South Carolina made a late push to flip Gibson, but he remained a Gopher and has a promising future.  I would anticipate that he'll redshirt and allow time to develop and strengthen.  Kill stated that Gibson will be playing offense, but these things will sort themselves out eventually.

TE - BRANDON LINGEN

VITALS
Position: TE
Home: Wayzata, MN
Height: 6-5
Weight: 245
40-time: 4.89

Videos: [Junior Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on December 14th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.5) - NR
- ESPN: (73) - #41 TE
- 247.Sports (0.7984) - #79 TE

Other BCS Offers: Air Force

TWITTER @Brandon_Lingen

NOTES:

Big kid with strength and the ability to run block all day long.  We are a power running team and Lingen is a guy who will help us continue that identity.  I believe he'll have a productive career as a regular contributor who will only be appropriately appreciated by Jeff Jones.

OT - LUKE RASMUSSEN

VITALS
Position: OT
Home: Brookfield, WI
Height: 6-7
Weight: 270
40-time: who cares

Videos: [Junior Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on December 14th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.4) - NR
- ESPN: (75) - #65 OT
- 247.Sports (0.7759) - #187 OT

Other BCS Offers: Harvard, Penn, Yale, Air Force, a bunch of MAC and FCS schools

TWITTER @Rasquatch75

NOTES:

This kid has two things you cannot teach.  He is very big and he is apparently very smart.  Rasmussen is clearly a guy the staff thought was worth a scholarship and is a developmental recruit.  Bring him in, bulk him up, team him what you want him to do and maybe he develops into a contributing player.

We see a prospect with great length; adding bulk while improving functional playing strength are a must; is worth looking at as a defensive end; his athleticism and leaping ability are pluses. Handles the 14 yard long snap efficiently and does a very good job of covering punts; flashes open field tackling ability; Has two up the middle FG/PAT blocks to his credit.

Also has the ability to be a long-snapper.  Guaranteed to redshirt this year and has a chance to contribute down the road.

OL - JARED WEYLER

VITALS
Position: OL
Home: Dayton, OH
Height: 6-5
Weight: 280
40-time: who cares

Videos: [Senior Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on January 24th

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.4) - NR
- ESPN: (75) - #161 OT
- 247.Sports (0.807) - #154 OT

Other BCS Offers: almost the entire MAC plus Air Force

TWITTER - none, I guess

who doesn't have Twitter?

NOTES:

Another developmental offensive lineman who will redshirt to gain strength and improve technique.  Weyler also may have some position flexibility to him as his home could be at guard or at tackle.

Weyler has a nice blend of height and size for the offensive line. His length will be an asset at the next level once he gains experience as a pass protector. Flashes good playing strength but mostly over powers current level of competition with his size and positioning. Is more productive blocking everything in front of him

2nd team All-Ohio who will add more offensive line depth and a kid who will have time to get better before being thrust into Big Ten action.

WR - CONNER KRIZANCIC

VITALS
Position: WR
Home: Mentor, OH
Height: 6-2 
Weight: 190
40-time: 4.6

Videos: [Senior QB Highlights] [Junior Highlights
Scroll of the SwornCommitted on February 3rd

RANKINGS
- Rivals: (5.7) - NR
- ESPN: (73) - #192 WR
- 247.Sports (0.7893) - #272 WR

Other BCS Offers: Cincinnati

TWITTER @CjKrizancic_5

NOTES:

Developmental receiver who appears to be more of a possession receiver than a down-field kid.  He shows pretty good athleticism on his film, but does not have great speed.  Will certainly redshirt.

There you have your class of offensive player-makers.  I gotta say there are a few names on this list that have me really excited.  There is some young talent on the Gopher offense.

Below are preferred walk-ons who also have signed on to play football at the University of Minnesota.

  • Jacques Perra - QB - Roseville
  • Josh Parks - RB - Chisago Lakes
  • Miles Thomas - FB - Butler Community College
  • Riley Oharah - FB - Butler Community College
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